Like so many others, Vietnam veteran Mr Vern Hopkins is preparing to attend an Anzac Day dawn service.
While he pays tribute to the fallen, and remembers his own service, he will also be looking forward to the completion of a new memorial in Brisbane’s Anzac Square to honour all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander military personnel who have served in armed conflict.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander defence personnel have been involved in conflicts since the Boer War of 1899.
“Anzac Square is where we come on Anzac Day and Remembrance Day. To know there will be a memorial there for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander service men and women makes me so proud,” Mr Hopkins said.
As co-Chair of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Dedicated Memorial Committee, Mr Hopkins is delighted that Griffith University is facilitating a nation-wide search for a design for the memorial, and that it will play a leading role in development and installation. It is hoped the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Dedicated Memorial will be finished by 2018.
Griffith University researcher Dr Dale Kerwin is also on the memorial committee. His grandmother wanted to enlist as a nurse at the end of the second world war, but Aboriginal women were not accepted.
So she told them she was Jamaican and became an Australian Defence Force nurse.
“This is just one example of hundreds where the dedicated war service of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people has gone unacknowledged. This memorial will go a long way to putting that right,” Dr Kerwin said.
Director of Development and Alumni at Griffith University, Gillian French, said it was a great privilege for Griffith to be involved in this project but it takes a community to make something like this possible.
“This is a great community initiative and we need all Australians to support it,’ Gillian said.
More information about the memorial and how to donate to the fund can be found here.